This month marked a full 30 years as a menstruating woman for me. I This works out to something like 400 periods (having never been pregnant), totaling close to four and a half years of my life…bleeding.
That’s a lot of time to spend ‘cursed’. And for most of my life, it was just that.
I’ve been a bleeding woman for more time than some of my younger friends have been around.
I am clear that I’m fully in the latter half of my procreative life and that brings up a lot of questions and feelings.
Am I sure I don’t want to have children? Could I have one now even if I tried? What is the next phase of life going to be like for me? What was it like for mom…? (I remember only bits and pieces and she isn’t around for me to ask anymore) How many more bleeding years are available to me and how do I make the most out of them?
I remember the first time it came; I was 11 year old exuberance, running, when all of a sudden, I felt something strange happening and I just knew that I had gotten my first period.
I remember the awe quickly turning to a kind of dread when I began feeling pain and getting present to how uncomfortable it was (and this was going to be a monthly reality for decades). I remember feeling so awkward with the thick pads I had to use and being certain that everyone at school could see their bulge.
I remember the first time the blood stained my pants and the overwhelming embarrassment. I remember subsequent ones too.
I remember some horrid periods, profuse sweating, being doubled over in agony, nauseated. I remember being sent home from school and waiting for the bus, not sure how I was going to make it home. I remember near fainting from the pain. I remember sleepless night, hollering and moaning.
I remember how I began to notice the changes in my openness and tolerance to life’s circumstances and situations as I approached my cycle. And I began to see through PMS. I was not in the wrong at this time; I wasn’t crazy. I just couldn’t tolerate any BS; I couldn’t and wouldn’t play nice and polite when it wasn’t warranted. And I began to see how conditioned I was to tolerating and accepting things that didn’t work for me. I began to see this pre-bleeding time as such a gift of insight! I began to listen for, acknowledge, appreciate and ask for what I needed. I took the time when I needed it. I said ‘no’ when it was the right thing to do even when it was scary. And somewhere along the lines, the pain ceased.
It took many, many years but finally a curse became a blessing and a miracle.
And it’s actually an ongoing process. Being a woman is wildly beautiful; the gifts keeps unfolding. Do you know what I mean…?
Sometimes, I’m sad it took so long to get here. But really, there is no expiry date on healing. When I began bleeding 30 years ago, I couldn’t have conceived of where and who I would be right now.
When I look at it, it’s pretty amazing and I’m so curious and excited about what’s still to come…
~~ At any rate, this is how it all occurred to me on this day ~~
Art: ‘Final Entry’ by Freydoon Rassouli